According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus is a family of viruses common in people and animals. It has caused such diseases as MERS and SARS. The current strain of coronavirus causes a disease known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 later named COVID-19.
Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names. For example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, coronavirus were first identified in the 1960s, coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface.
“There are seven coronaviruses that can infect people. People around the world commonly get infected with these four human coronaviruses: 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1. They usually cause a mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illness, like the common cold that people catch every year.
“Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick, and become a new human coronavirus.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reported illnesses from the coronavirus disease 2019 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.
The symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure based upon known incubation information. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The CDC recommends seeking immediate medical attention if you develop the emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Emergency warning signs include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face.
Older adults, 65 years and older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions, are at higher risk for severe illness. The CDC recommends these individuals take extra precautions.
As of the March 31 update, Alaska has 133 confirmed cases, spread over 13 different communities. No cases have been reported in southwestern Alaska. Alaska Public Media reported that Oil and Gas company BP confirmed Tuesday that one of its workers at Prudhoe Bay had tested positive, the first in northern Alaska. Three deaths have been reported in Alaska, one of which was an individual that was in Seattle. Over 163,000 cases have been reported in the U.S.
The State of Alaska has limited both intrastate and interstate travel.
Travel between communities in the state is prohibited except to support critical infrastructure or necessary to meet critical personal needs.
Travel into the state requires all people arriving in Alaska, whether resident, worker or visitor to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for illness. Arriving residents and workers in self-quarantine, should work from home, unless you support critical infrastructure.
In addition, everyone in Alaska, except for those engaged in essential health care services, public government services, and essential business activities, are mandated to remain at their place of residence and practice social distancing. Social distancing is defined as maintaining a distance of six feet or greater from any individuals with whom you do not currently reside.
Additionally, no gatherings of more than 10 people may take place, and if a gathering does take place people must be six feet apart from each other.
All schools are closed through May 1.
All restaurants and bars are closed except for takeout orders.